Sen. Shilling ready for her role as Minority Leader

La Crosse lawmaker is facing a majority GOP in both houses

The Governor is entering his second term with his party holding a wide majority in both houses.

While it’s a benefit for the Governor as he tries to lead the state, it presents a challenge for one local lawmaker who is taking on a leadership role of her own.

Jennifer Shilling was elected to the senate in a recall election more than two years ago. In that short time she has risen to the role of minority leader.

While it gives her a chance to lead her party, it comes at a time when Democrats are making very few decisions.

“This is an exciting day, its a day of celebration,” said Sen. Jennifer Shilling on inauguration day.

Senator Shilling is entering a new chapter in her life in public service, one she never dreamed of. “To be here, in this building, standing on the floor of the senate today as the minority leader really is exciting,” said Shilling.

But instead of a blessing, it could turn out to be a curse. Sen. Shilling takes over when democrats have no power in Madison, and face tough issues like school vouchers and drug testing for welfare recipients.

The senator hopes that doesn’t stop her party from making progress. “I want to find some common ground, I want to be reasonable, and I really hope the majority party are good winners, that they need to be cognizant and patient and I think they they also need to exercise some restraint and also some compassion,” said Sen. Shilling.

That common ground hope has been shared by countless lawmakers during a particularly divided time in Wisconsin’s history, but Sen. Shilling has one reason for hope. “I think we’ve seen a lot of turnover in the past 4 years and I think some new faces, we don’t bring that baggage with us with new Senators and assembly members,” said Sen. Shilling.

Shilling says her top priority will be to increase spending on education, both at the K-12 and college level.

The new session officially started Monday, but it’s largely a day of ceremonies.